Fast Facts: A few things you didn’t know about Jewish-Muslim relations

A History of Jewish-Muslim Relations -- Edited by Abdelwahab Meddeb & Benjamin StoraThis is the first encyclopedic guide to the history of relations between Jews and Muslims around the world from the birth of Islam to today. Richly illustrated and beautifully produced, the book features more than 150 authoritative and accessible articles by an international team of leading experts in history, politics, literature, anthropology, and philosophy. Organized thematically and chronologically, this indispensable reference provides critical facts and balanced context for greater historical understanding and a more informed dialogue between Jews and Muslims.

Part I covers the medieval period; Part II, the early modern period through the nineteenth century, in the Ottoman Empire, Africa, Asia, and Europe; Part III, the twentieth century, including the exile of Jews from the Muslim world, Jews and Muslims in Israel, and Jewish-Muslim politics; and Part IV, intersections between Jewish and Muslim origins, philosophy, scholarship, art, ritual, and beliefs. The main articles address major topics such as the Jews of Arabia at the origin of Islam; special profiles cover important individuals and places; and excerpts from primary sources provide contemporary views on historical events.

Contributors include Mark R. Cohen, Alain Dieckhoff, Michael Laskier, Vera Moreen, Gordon D. Newby, Marina Rustow, Daniel Schroeter, Kirsten Schulze, Mark Tessler, John Tolan, Gilles Veinstein, and many more.


DID YOU KNOW?

This work, comprised of articles, portraits and spotlights on particular subjects (“Nota Bene”), and excerpts from primary sources (“Counterpoint”), emphasizes a global approach to Jewish-Muslim relations throughout history. It also reveals some facts that might surprise readers. Here are a few examples.

  • In some religious texts written in Arabic from the Jews of Andalusia, God is called “Allah,” and the terms “imam” and “minbar” are used to designate the leader and the pulpit, respectively; one even finds “Qur’an” for “Torah,” even though the latter exists in classical Arabic in the form “tawrat.”

 

  • Located in Hamadan in the north of Iran, the tomb of Esther (a biblical Jewish heroine who saved her people from a genocide in Persia) is a place of Jewish pilgrimage, but also a holy site for Christians and Muslims. In 2009, it was added to the list of national treasures of the Islamic Republic.

 

  • In the early centuries of Islam, the development of Arabic was, paradoxically, a major factor in the renaissance of written Hebrew. In order to conform to the purest possible version of classical Quranic Arabic, Muslim scribes had to develop grammar, syntax, and a lexicon. The Jews adopted these disciplines to apply to their study of Hebrew and of biblical texts, and thus invented true Hebrew linguistics.

 

  •  The idea of “Semitism,” which first appeared at the beginning of the nineteenth century in the field of comparative grammar, was mistakenly brought into the religious and cultural spheres, and then revived in an anti-scientific manner by racial theories in the name of nationalism and colonialism. Today the idea is contested, even within the linguistic context in which it has always resided.

 

  • The legendary motifs of the origins of Judaism—notably, the power of Solomon over the rebel genies—inspired the Thousand and One Nights, along with other Persian, Indian, and Arab stories.

 

  • It was under the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent that the Jews were allowed to develop the space in front of the Western Wall (the remains of the Second Temple that the West calls the Wailing Wall), which gradually became a major site of devotion.

 

  • In 1942, the Sultan of Morocco, Sidi Mohammed ben Youssef (the future King Mohammed V), received delegations of Jews who came to tell him of their grievances in the face of anti-Semitic laws imposed by the Vichy authorities. The Sultan reaffirmed the right of all of his subjects to sovereign protection, and thereafter invited notable Jews to all of the official ceremonies and to the Feast of the Throne. A “Square of Mohammed V” exists in the city of Ashkelon in southern Israel.

 

  • In scientific institutions and journals in the Islamic Republic of Iran, works of contemporary Jewish intellectuals are regularly recognized in Iranian studies, Islamic studies, and even in the history of the Qur’an and hadith. These works are translated and studied, and some win official awards.

 

  • In Israel, where civil marriage and divorce do not exist, Muslim religious tribunals, under some circumstances, are authorized to address questions of family law, and to apply sharia within certain constraints. This situation represents a legacy of the Ottoman millet system, which was formerly applied in Palestine. For their part, Israeli civil tribunals are sometimes called upon, for certain specific matrimonial questions, to apply the laws of sharia.

 

  • While the Holocaust took place mainly in Christian territories, more than seventy Muslims have been counted as “Righteous Among the Nations.” The Yad Vashem Institute awarded this title, notably, to a Turkish diplomat, to Tatars in the former Soviet Union, and especially to Bosnians and Albanians. For the latter, saving the Jews was based on a traditional code of honor, Besa, which literally signifies “to keep the promise.”

 

SNEAK PEAK (October release date!): A History of Jewish-Muslim Relations

A History of Jewish-Muslim Relations: From the Origins to the Present Day -- Edited by Abdelwahab Meddeb & Benjamin StoraSet to be released in October 2013, A History of Jewish-Muslim Relations is the first encyclopedic guide to the history of relations between Jews and Muslims around the world from the birth of Islam to today. Richly illustrated (more than 250 images) and beautifully produced, the book features more than 150 authoritative and accessible articles by an international team of leading experts in history, politics, literature, anthropology, and philosophy. Organized thematically and chronologically, this indispensable reference provides critical facts and balanced context for greater historical understanding and a more informed dialogue between Jews and Muslims.

The main articles address major topics such as the Jews of Arabia at the origin of Islam; special profiles cover important individuals and places; and excerpts from primary sources provide contemporary views on historical events.

Contributors include Mark R. Cohen, Alain Dieckhoff, Michael Laskier, Vera Moreen, Gordon D. Newby, Marina Rustow, Daniel Schroeter, Kirsten Schulze, Mark Tessler, John Tolan, Gilles Veinstein, and many more.

  • Covers the history of relations between Jews and Muslims around the world from the birth of Islam to today
  • Written by an international team of leading scholars
  • Features in-depth articles on social, political, and cultural history
  • Includes profiles of important people (Eliyahu Capsali, Joseph Nasi, Mohammed V, Martin Buber, Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin, Edward Said, Messali Hadj, Mahmoud Darwish) and places (Jerusalem, Alexandria, Baghdad)
  • Presents passages from essential documents of each historical period, such as the Cairo Geniza, Al-Sira, and Judeo-Persian illuminated manuscripts
  • Richly illustrated with more than 250 images, including maps and color photographs
  • Includes extensive cross-references, bibliographies, and an index

Each week, Princeton University Press wants to share a new excerpt from this groundbreaking account of a challenging yet remarkable meeting of two religions. This week’s selection is written by Gordon D. Newby, a professor of Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies at Emory University. His research specialties include early Islam, Muslim relations with Jews and Christians, and comparative sacred texts:

Early Judeo-Arabic

Linguistic evidence for the presence of Jews in Arabia is impossible to date, but by the time of the rise of Islam, we have evidence of a specialized Judeo-Arabic and the presence of Hebrew and Jewish Aramaic terms assimilated into the Northwest Arabic of the Hijâz. Common words like çalât (from the Aramaic tzeluta, “prayer”), çadaqa (from the Hebrew tzedaqa, “charity, alms-giving”), zakât (from the Hebrew zekhut, “purification” or “merit”), and nabî (from the Hebrew navi’, “prophet”) are all treated in the Qur’an as “clear” Arabic. Jews in Arabia spoke a variety of Judeo-Arabic, termed al-yahûdîyah, “the Jewish [tongue]” and read scriptures in both Hebrew and in Arabic translations, preparing Targumim, or translations interspersed with commentaries, in the manner of other Diaspora Jews. See article by Geneviève Gobillot, p. xxx It is the opinion of this author that most of this linguistic development took place in the centuries after the unsuccessful Bar Kokhba Revolt (132-135 C.E.) which marked the end of Jewish resistance against Roman occupation, and it is in the Roman period and after that we begin to get more evidence of Jewish life in Arabia.[1]

One of the results of the Jewish conflict with Rome was the movement of Jews from the center of the Roman oikoumene to the periphery, Gaul, Iberia, and Arabia. We know that the Pharisaic Jew turned Christian, Paul, who had been Saul of Tarsus, had spent three years in Arabia after his conversion to Christianity, presumably among possible Jewish converts,[2] and prior to the start of the Bar Kokhba Revolt, the revolt’s spiritual leader, Rabbi Akiba, journeyed to Arabia, as he did elsewhere, to garner Jewish support for the conflict with Rome. When the Christian missionary Theophilus traveled to Arabia two centuries later, he found a great number of Jews.[3] By the middle of the next century, the rulers of Yemen were using monotheistic formulas in inscriptions that appear to be Jewish or based on Jewish ideals.

 


[1] See Gordon D. Newby, “Observations about an Early Judaeo-Arabic,” Jewish Quaterly Review., New Series 61 (1971): 214-221; Moshe Gil, “The Origins of the Jews of Yathrib,” Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam. 4 (1984): 206.

[2] Galatians 1:17.

[3] Philostorgius, Ecclesiasticae Historiae. Geneva: Chouët, 1642, 3.5.


Fun Fact:
“Judeo-Arabic is an ethnolect (a linguistic entity with its own history and used by a distinct language community) which has been spoken and written in various forms by Jews throughout the Arabic-speaking world.”–Benjamin Hary, Emory University

Check out some examples of Judeo-Arabic script below.

Judeo-Arabic Examples

 

Exclusive Sneak Peek at the Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought — West, The

The Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought is the first reference to Islamic political thought from the birth of Islam to today. Comprehensive, authoritative, and accessible, the Encyclopedia provides much-needed context for understanding contemporary politics in the Islamic world and beyond. In this exclusive excerpt, Professor John R. Bowen of Washington University, visits the various views on Muslim immigration among contemporary scholars:

West, The

Although Muslims have resided in parts of Europe for centuries, and many slaves taken from Africa to North America were Muslims, the question of Islam in the West rose in importance after World War II. European countries encouraged workers from North and West Africa, South Asia, and Turkey to add their labor power to the postwar recovery, and most of those workers were Muslims. By the late 1960s, many of those workers had settled in Europe with their families. Immigration to the United States increased at about the same time, and Muslims, particularly from South Asia, were among those who settled there. Among the new arrivals were many Muslim scholars who offered opinions about how ordinary Muslims were to live religious lives in lands where they were minorities and where not all Islamic religious institutions were available. At the same time, many African American Muslims were turning from the specific teachings of the Nation of Islam toward a more broadly distributed Sunni Islam. Contemporary scholars of diverse origins increasingly provide opinions through broader networks that stretch across the Atlantic and include scholars from non- Western centers of learning. Muslims have posed questions about (1) the legitimacy of participating in Western political institutions and (2) how best to adapt their individual, everyday behavior to their new, non- Islamic environments. One major response has been the call to develop “legal theory for Muslim minorities‘ (flqh al-aqalliyyăt) or a distinct jurisprudence for Muslims living as minorities in non- Muslim societies. In Europe the idea has been most closely associated with Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a scholar born in 1926 in Egypt who was educated and taught at Azhar University before moving to Qatar, where he created a faculty of shari’a and became well- known through his books, his website, and his broadcasts on Aljazeera television. He played a major role on the popular website Islam Online and in the European Council for Fatwa and Research, an association of scholars mainly living in (although not originating from) European countries.

View the rest of the Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought excerpt here: West, The

Exclusive Sneak Peek at the Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought — Syria

The Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought is the first reference to Islamic political thought from the birth of Islam to today. Comprehensive, authoritative, and accessible, the Encyclopedia provides much-needed context for understanding contemporary politics in the Islamic world and beyond. In this exclusive excerpt, Gerhard Böwering, Professor of Religious Studies and Islamic Studies at Yale University, details the political and social development of Syria:

Syria

Syria (Shăm, ”the left- handed region,‘ when one faces the rising sun in the Arab heartlands) falls naturally into an eastern mountain range along the Mediterranean with its major cities of Damascus and Aleppo and into a western section with a plain of steppes and deserts. Prior to the Muslim conquest, Syria had been a wealthy Roman province (64— 300), with Antioch as its capital, and had continued to ‡ourish in its golden age during the Byzantine period (300— 634). Conquered by Muslim Arab forces in 635— 36, Syria be-came the center of the Arab Empire under the Umayyad dynasty, with Damascus as its seat of government (658— 750). During the flrst phase of the Abbasid Empire (750— 945), with Baghdad as the seat of the caliph, Syria lost its central position to Iraq, became the principal Muslim province bordering on the Byzantine Empire to its north, was drawn into tribal con‡icts between southern and northern Arabs, faced attempts by Muslim rulers of Egypt to extend their hegemony over its territory, and became the theater of com-peting Sunni- Shi’i in‡uence. During the second phase of Abbasid rule (945— 1258), Syria initially experienced a period of renaissance under local dynasties, foremost among them the Shi’i dynasty of the Hamdanids ruling from Aleppo, at the same time coming under the increasing in‡uence of the Isma’ili Fatimid dynasty, which sought to extend itself from its base in Cairo, the capital of its counter-caliphate. With the Sunni revival patronized by the Turkic Seljuq sultans after their takeover of Baghdad in 1055, Syria soon came under the control of Seljuq atabegs (tutors), among them the Turkic Zengids of Aleppo and the Kurdish Ayyubids of Damascus. The Ayyubid Saladin brought Fatimid rule to an end in 1171 and de-feated the Crusaders at Hattin in 1187, thereby restoring Jerusalem to Muslim control and flrmly establishing Sunni rule over Syria.
At the time of the Mongol invasions of the Iranian lands that brought the Abbasid caliphate in Baghdad to its end in 1258, the Mamluks succeeded to the rich heritage of the Ayyubids in both Egypt and Syria after having definitively arrested the Mongol advance westward in 1260 at the Battle of ’Ayn Jalut. For its part, Syria flourished under Mamluk rule as a land of prosperity and a center of learning but was dealt a harsh blow by Tamerlane’s invasion in 1401, which devastated Aleppo and Damascus. Thereafter Syria’s culture declined, and the country was conquered in 1516 by the Ottoman Turks, who had established themselves in Anatolia and the Balkans and had conquered Constantinople in 1453, renaming it Istanbul and taking it as the capital of their expanding empire. Under the Ottomans, Syria continued for three centuries as a province ruled by Turkish pashas, administrators appointed by the Ottoman sultans, while much of local urban politics was dominated by the powerful influence of prominent Arab families, such as the ’Azms.

View the rest of the Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought excerpt here: Syria

Exclusive Sneak Peek at the Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought — Salafis

The Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought is the first reference to Islamic political thought from the birth of Islam to today. Comprehensive, authoritative, and accessible, the Encyclopedia provides much-needed context for understanding contemporary politics in the Islamic world and beyond. In this exclusive excerpt, Bernard Haykel, professor of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University, uncovers the complex history of Salafis in the context of Islamic political thought:

Salafis

The Salafi designation is contested in the scholarly literature as well as among some Muslims, and because of this there is considerable confusion about to whom it applies and the nature of its doctrines. A historically grounded definition maintains that Salafis adhere to a literalist theology that rejects allegorical interpretation and reason- based arguments and claim to be faithful to the teachings of the theological Hanbalis or the ahl al-יּadűth. Salafis insist that their beliefs are identical to those of the first three generations of Muslims, al-salaf al-ጃăliיּ (pious ancestors), from whom they take their name. Their attention is directed at convincing other Muslims of the superiority of Salai teachings and of the need to abandon reprehensible innovations (bida’) allegedly not rooted in Islam, such as superstitious beliefs and the intercessionary practices associated with the cult of dead saints. Sufis and Shi’is in particular are the target of Salafi polemical attacks for partaking in forms of unbelief (kufr) by not being faithful to a strict conception of God’s oneness (tawיּűd). Salaflsm’s most prominent premodern authorities are Ibn Taymiyya (d. 1328), his student Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya (d. 1350), and a number of reformist scholars who followed in their footsteps, such as Muhammad b. ’Abd al-Wahhab (d. 1792) and Muhammad al-Shawkani (d. 1834), among others. Because Salafis are concerned with theological purity, they engage in exclusionary practices that can attain the level of excommunication (takfűr) of fellow Muslims, and embedded in this is the potential for direct action against individuals or institutions.

View the rest of the Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought excerpt here: Salafis

Exclusive Sneak Peek at the Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought — Revolutions

The Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought is the first reference to Islamic political thought from the birth of Islam to today. Comprehensive, authoritative, and accessible, the Encyclopedia provides much-needed context for understanding contemporary politics in the Islamic world and beyond. In this exclusive excerpt, Melissa Finn, lecturer at Wilfrid Laurier University and expert on political science/international studies, explores revolutions and revolutionary thinking in Islamic history:

Revolutions

Revolution is a transformation of the social, political, economic, or religious structures in a society, carried out, most frequently, by re-volts of the less powerful or disenfranchised against ruling authorities. This transformation can occur in a single locale over a period of days or extend across a wide geographical region over a period of de-cades. Revolutions signal or embody a crisis of the status quo. Revolutions may involve a political crisis for existing regimes of power and authority that cannot respond effectively to challenges from ex-ternal or internal actors or coalitions of actors. Sometimes revolutions are led by intellectuals, elites, military cadres, or members of the middle class, but quite often, revolutions begin at the grassroots level through the discontent of the masses or dispossessed. Revolutions and revolutionary thinking have had a place within Islamic thought since the Prophet Muhammad first overturned the prevailing cultural, political, and religious status quo of the Arabian Peninsula by establishing new institutions of governance, law, and society in Medina in 622. The boundaries of revolution in Islam are defined, first and foremost, by Qur’anic injunctions, regardless of the ideological commitments of the various Muslim revolutionary thinkers. There is a revolutionary quality to the Qur÷an itself: beyond being the direct word of God, the Qur’an offers itself as a witness to itself, as revelation and instruction unlike any other, and as reliable guidance for the purpose of establishing a righteous social and political order under the specific theological, ethical, and human framework of belief in the one God. Muslim revolutionaries throughout history have cited various verses of Islam’s sacred text in order to justify and validate revolution as authentically Islamic and have rejected the admonitions attributed to the Prophet Muhammad regarding the fitna (trial) of rebellion against unjust rulers. According to many of these thinkers, the mission of Qur’anic revelation is to provide a revolutionary ideology, sufficient unto itself, that can transform people and free them from the shackles of unjust cultural and social practices.

View the rest of the Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought excerpt here: Revolutions

Exclusive Sneak Peek at the Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought — Muslim Brotherhood

The Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought is the first reference to Islamic political thought from the birth of Islam to today. Comprehensive, authoritative, and accessible, the Encyclopedia provides much-needed context for understanding contemporary politics in the Islamic world and beyond. In this exclusive excerpt, Malika Zeghal, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Professor in Contemporary Islamic Thought and Life at Harvard University, sheds light on one the Arab world’s most prominent and immense Islamic movements — the Society of the Muslim Brothers. Her entry on the influential Islamic group traces its history:

Muslim Brotherhood

The Society of the Muslim Brothers (al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun) is a political movement whose ideology is based in Islamic principles. It was one of the most significant political opposition movements in the second part of the 20th century. Founded in Egypt in 1928 by Hasan al-Banna (1906— 49), it produced offshoots elsewhere in the Middle East, such as in Palestine, Syria, Jordan, and Sudan, and influenced the ideologies of Islamist movements in Northern Africa.
In the 1940s, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood became the first mass grassroots political organization in the modern Middle East. Under the leadership of Banna, it sought recruits from the educated middle class and from the lower classes “who thereby gained a nonelitist access to politics“ in contrast to the recruitment of politicians from higher socioeconomic backgrounds through patronage and clientele networks. This style of recruitment partially explains the extraordinary growth of the movement, in combination with Banna’s focus on moral and religious education as well as on a practical vision of Islam reflected in active preaching and in the construction of schools and mosques. This vision brought to life many of the principles underlying reformist intellectual trends such as those inspired by Muhammad ’Abduh (1849— 1905) and Rashid Rida (1865— 1935). The Muslim Brotherhood has authoritarian forms of internal governance as well as administrative structures that resemble those of a political party. Banna was not in favor of parliamentary partisan life as it played out in Egypt between the two World Wars, however, and it was not until the end of the 20th century that the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and some of its offshoots located elsewhere attempted to become legal political parties.

View the rest of the Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought excerpt here: Muslim Brotherhood

Exclusive Sneak Peek at the Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought — Human Rights

The Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought is the first reference to Islamic political thought from the birth of Islam to today. Comprehensive, authoritative, and accessible, the Encyclopedia provides much-needed context for understanding contemporary politics in the Islamic world and beyond. In this exclusive excerpt, David Mednicoff, Director of Middle Eastern Studies and Assistant Professor of Public Policy at University of Massachusetts Amherst, illustrates the present-day political human rights issues pertaining to Islam.

Human Rights

As a contemporary political issue related to Islam, human rights is often invoked as an international legal yardstick to which some states with Muslim majorities, particularly in the Middle East, are seen, particularly by Westerners, to fall short. Related to this, some Muslims and their governments argue that aspects of contemporary human rights law reflect a Western neoimperialist political slant. Tensions along these lines usually center on political liberties, religious freedom, and women’s rights. Looking mostly at real or alleged shortfalls in Middle Eastern governments’ enforcement of contemporary rights law, however, obscures both the fact that perceived violations may have little to do with Islam per se and the historical importance of Islam’s role in bringing varied issues of equality and justice to the fore of many premodern societies. Given Islam’s strong foundational and doctrinal strains of social and economic justice, religion has been and can be linked with providing greater equality or addressing severe poverty in Muslim-majority societies.
Early Muslim texts and legal scholars did not use the modern Western political term ”human rights‘ (יּuq╖q al- insăn), nor did they envision current core concepts of human rights, which generally are specific privileges that individuals enjoy in relation to nation- states in which they are citizens or residents. In classical Islam, individual rights came about as the duty of a divinely sanctioned ruler of a transnational community of Muslims, and of protected non-Muslims, to realize God’s will through justice, fairness, and enhanced economic equality.

View the rest of the Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought excerpt here: Human Rights

Exclusive Sneak Peek at the Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought — Elections

The Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought is the first reference to Islamic political thought from the birth of Islam to today. Comprehensive, authoritative, and accessible, the Encyclopedia provides much-needed context for understanding contemporary politics in the Islamic world and beyond. In this exclusive excerpt, Bruce K. Rutherford author of Egypt after Mubarak: Liberalism, Islam, and Democracy in the Arab World, explores Islamic ideas and debates about elections and popular sovereignty.

Elections

The concept that the public should participate in the selection of its political leaders and legislators became an important feature of Islamic reformist thought in the late 19th and early 20th centuries through the works of Khayr al- Din al-Tunisi (1822— 90), Muhammad ’Abduh (1849— 1905), and Muhammad Rashid Rida (1865— 1935). It was developed more fully by contemporary Islamic thinkers, including Yusuf al-Qaradawi, Muhammad Salim al-’Awwa, Tariq al- Bishri, and Ahmad Kamal Abu al-Majd. Their support for elections derived from the principle that political authority (ጃulᴃa) lies with the community (umma). In their view, the Qur’an, the sunna, and the historical experiences of the Rightly Guided Caliphs (632— 61) all confirm that the people are entitled to select their ruler. According to Qaradawi, this idea lies at the foundation of the faith. It is most clearly captured in the Prophet’s statement that Muslims are empowered to choose who will lead them in prayer. ’Awwa further argues that the public’s right to choose the ruler can be traced back to the selection of Abu Bakr as the first successor to Muhammad. Abu Bakr ascended to power through a process by which two prominent members of the community (’Umar and Abu ’Ubayda) showed their support for him by pledging an oath of loyalty (bay’a); the community in turn showed its support through its own bay’a. ’Awwa, who argues that the first bay’a constituted a nomination and the second a referendum, concludes, ”one of the most signifl-cant results of this event was the decision that a ruler can be chosen only through consultation with the community of Muslims.‘ This principle was upheld by the Rightly Guided Caliphs and serves as the foundation for Islamic government.

View the rest of the Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought excerpt here: Elections

Exclusive Sneak Peek at the Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought — Economic Theory

The Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought is the first reference to Islamic political thought from the birth of Islam to today. Comprehensive, authoritative, and accessible, the Encyclopedia provides much-needed context for understanding contemporary politics in the Islamic world and beyond. In this exclusive excerpt, Timur Kuran of Duke University and author of The Long Divergence: How Islamic Law Held Back the Middle East, explores the intellectual heritage and rise of “Islamic economics,” which entered a new phase during the Middle East’s oil boom of the mid-1970s. “The size of the global Islamic finance sector, estimated at $400 billion as of 2010, has prompted much empirical research aimed at evaluating its performance, as well as theorizing to explain its findings,” writes Kuran.

Economic Theory

Throughout its history, Islam has sought to regulate all aspects of life, including economics. Its holy book contains verses concerning such matters as credit, trade, resource allocation, taxation, redistribution, and inheritance. The Qur’an prohibits ribă, a pre- Islamic credit practice, which commonly led borrowers into enslavement (2:274— 80, 3:130, 4:160— 61). It prescribes an annual tax called zakat on certain forms of wealth and income in order to finance eight categories of public expenditure, including defense, the propagation of Islam, and poor relief (2:177, 2:215, 4:8, 9:60, 24:22). It entitles all surviving children of a deceased person to a share of his or her estate (4:11— 12, 176). It requires individuals to be honest and fair in commercial transactions (55:7— 9).

Intellectual Heritage

Over the ages, a wide variety of economic policies have been justified through these prescriptions and prohibitions, including ones that are mutually incompatible. Often the justifications in question have rested also on the sunna, the normative practice of the Prophet Muhammad. From the dawn of Islam to the present, the use of interest on loans has been treated as illegitimate through an expansive interpretation of the ban on ribā, understood as usury. The preindustrial guilds that regulated the activities of craftsmen were given monopolistic and monopolistic privileges out of a sense of fairness defined in Islamic terms. In certain times and places, agricultural taxes were collected according to rules prescribed by the Qur’an.

View the rest of the Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought excerpt here: Economic Theory

Exclusive Sneak Peek at the Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought — Ba‘th Party

The Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought is the first reference to Islamic political thought from the birth of Islam to today. Comprehensive, authoritative, and accessible, the Encyclopedia provides much-needed context for understanding contemporary politics in the Islamic world and beyond. In this exclusive excerpt, Keith David Watenpaugh (UC Davis) describes the origins and contemporary activities of the Ba’th party.

“Ba’thism is an amalgamation of leftist and ultranationalist ides from 1930s and 1940s Europe,” writes Watenpaugh. “To many mainstream Muslims, Baʽthism is inherently un-Islamic.” Yet, as the concise history in this entry makes clear, the Ba-th party has “exerted far-reaching political and cultural influence on the Arab world, particularly in Syria and Iraq.”

 

Ba‘th Party

Hizb al- Ba’th al- ’Arabi al- Ishtiraki (Party of Arab Socialist Resurrection) is a Pan- Arab nationalist party founded in the 1940s that exerted far- reaching political and cultural in‡uence on the Arab world, particularly in Syria and Iraq. Though conceived as a secular nationalist movement, its ideology considered Islam a vital part of Arab heritage but not the basis for politics. In practice, Ba’thists have been antagonistic to members of the traditional Muslim elite as well as violent opponents of Salafism and Shi’i religious movements.

Party Origins

Upon their return to Damascus, Syria, from university studies in Europe, Michel ’Aflaq and Salah al- Din al- Bitar (1912— 80) began a discussion circle among the city’s educated young men that would form the nucleus of the Ba’th Party (1942). Both ’Aflaq, a Greek Orthodox Christian, and Bitar, a Sunni Muslim, were of solid middle- class origins and brought to the party their distrust of the elite and bourgeois nationalists of a previous generation who had failed to rid Syria of colonial rule. The party’s ranks were swelled by the addition of the followers of an embittered ’Alawi refugee intellectual from the Sanjak of Alexandretta, Zaki al-Arsuzi (1901— 68), who also brought to the party an emphasis on social justice, the cult of personality, and Arab chauvinism. The party’s social-ism and secularism held little appeal for Syria’s Sunni elite or its middle class. Nevertheless, the party proved particularly attractive to non- Sunni landowners and rural smallholders, Arab Christians, and junior officers.

View the rest of the Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought excerpt here: Ba’th Party

BOOK FACT FRIDAY

FACT:  “In 2012, the year 1433 of the Muslim calendar, the Islamic population throughout the world was estimated at approximately a billion and a half, representing about one-fifth of humanity. In geographical terms, Islam occupies the center of the world, stretching like a big belt across the globe from east to west. From Morocco to Mindanao, it encompasses countries of both the consumer North and the disadvantaged South. It sits at the crossroads of America, Europe, and Russia on one side and Africa, India, and China on the other. Historically, Islam is also at a crossroads, destined to play a world role in politics and to become the most prominent world religion during the 21st century. Islam is thus not contained in any national culture; it is a universal force.

“In creating The Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought (EIPT), our goal was to provide a solid and innovative reference work that would trace the historical roots of Islamic political thought and demonstrate its contemporary importance. The editors first met for a workshop in fall of 2007 at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, where we agreed on a framework for the encyclopedia and drafted a list of entries. The EIPT was conceived as a combination of broad, comprehensive articles on core concepts and shorter entries on specific ideas, movements, leaders, and related topics. We intended to make the EIPT accessible, informative, and comprehensive with respect to the contemporary political and cultural situation of Islam, while also providing in-depth examination of the historical roots of that situation. The core articles on central themes were designated to provide the framework for the reader to integrate and contextualize the information provided by the plethora of articles on more specific subjects. It is our hope that this organizational structure will enable the EIPT to serve as a reference work of the first order for both beginners and specialists and to support undergraduate and graduate courses on Islamic political thought.”

–Gerhard Bowering, from the introduction of The Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought

We invite you to read the full introduction online: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/i9446.pdf

The Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought
Edited by Gerhard Bowering
Patricia Crone, Wadad Kadi, Devin J. Stewart, Muhammad Qasim Zaman, associate editors
Mahan Mirza, assistant editor

The first encyclopedia of Islamic political thought from the birth of Islam to today, this comprehensive, authoritative, and accessible reference provides the context needed for understanding contemporary politics in the Islamic world and beyond. With more than 400 alphabetically arranged entries written by an international team of specialists, the volume focuses on the origins and evolution of Islamic political ideas and related subjects, covering central terms, concepts, personalities, movements, places, and schools of thought across Islamic history. Fifteen major entries provide a synthetic treatment of key topics, such as Muhammad, jihad, authority, gender, culture, minorities, fundamentalism, and pluralism. Incorporating the latest scholarship, this is an indispensable resource for students, researchers, journalists, and anyone else seeking an informed perspective on the complex intersection of Islam and politics.

For more information and sample entries, please visit:
http://press.princeton.edu/titles/9446.html